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Home Entrepreneur Interview with Vivek Sharan | Founder and Director at Ignify solutions Pvt Ltd Interview with Vivek Sharan | Founder and Director at Ignify solutions Pvt Ltd

At BrilliantRead Media, we always strive to bring some of the meaningful and powerful stories from India and around the world to empower and motivate our growing community. As part of that Endeavour, we invited yet another passionate entrepreneur and leader Vivek Sharan this week to know more about his inspiring journey. With 20+ years of experience across varied profiles and having held various leadership roles, he is now leveraging his diverse experience. He is the Founder and Director of Ignify solutions Pvt Ltd. Which is now a leading educational start-up helping Schools, Colleges & Institutions get best admissions and Placements. Let’s learn more about his journey, way forward and his advice for our growing community!

Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Vivek:

We are aware of your contribution to the ecosystem, talk us through your background and your journey in great detail as an entrepreneur, please; 

I did my schooling from K.V IIT Kharagpur and further pursued M.B.A in Sales & Marketing. I started my Career with front Line Sales and then Moved to Admission Sales Conversions.

Here, I not only explored the urge and hunger to exploit Lead channels but also I could learn and experiment with my Sales conversion skills. I could achieve some of the best industry Conversion Ratios.”
Later I joined the revolutionary Smart class technology which had just started to expand. I had the opportunity to lead projects in Schools and Colleges Pan India under some of the best industry leaders. With Smart class technology sales, Operations, Customer Retention, Team hiring and Training became an integral part of our daily life because of the tremendous growth the company was witnessing.
We were interviewing candidates for various levels and geography which also included the SAARC countries. Further training team and ensuring the best output from team was a key performance indicator that I was driving. I was witnessing tremendous learning transition from admissions to hiring, from training to sales, from planning to operations. The next change in Career path came with joining People combine as National Head Admissions managing the Oakridge International Schools and westberry Schools Pan India. My experience of managing Admissions in Fiitjee and exposure in international Schools admission sales with Oakridge helped to get some of the best admission Conversions and growth, Later joined Ebix Smartclass as Senior Vice President to manage P & L of its smart class business in East and SAARC countries. The 20+ years in the industry specially in education industry experience gave the confidence and strength to give birth to Ignify Solutions to return back the learning from the industry and help them grow with more admissions, Better revenue and higher placements.
The 20 years being with leading Companies like FIITJEE, EDUCOMP,  PEOPLECOMBINE, SMARTCLASS, EBIX , working day and night with Schools and Colleges in every state and majority of the district of India and abroad, I could feel the passion of being an entrepreneur was taking shape in my Mind very strongly with an aim to deliver high performance in all walks of life. To add to my skills and knowledge, I always keep on my research on exploring customer behaviour, marketing channels, branding ideas, and interview preparations.”
I was blessed to have my early years of learning at the prestigious IIT Kharagpur where my uncle was the H.O.D. in humanities and Social Sciences.  His learning’s that he shared being a world renowned psychologist gave me the insight into human behavior and factors that influence them in every state of their age and profession. My performance always had the cutting edge of not only knowing the trade well but also knowing to consumer behavior.
I am from a farmers Family from a small village in Bihar but my parents were very passionate to get me the best education.
At the age of 4 years, they moved me away from them so that I could get quality education and enlighten myself. My father showed me life in villages, the struggle and challenges they face and kept me focused to work towards helping and solving issues with rural areas which was majorly education and Employment. My group of friends who are again from all walks of life, some of them are top  IIT graduates, Entrepreneurs, we all are well connected and ensure to help each other learn more and grow more.
I have always been very passionate about building something on my own that would be helping Schools and Colleges; this is where I always belong. We all know that the health of a person can be tracked with the help of his B.P, sugar, BMI and other indicators. Similarly, for Schools and Colleges, the admissions and Placements are the real indicators of their performance and growth. This is where I could see a major Gap. The stakeholders of schools and Colleges are struggling for more admissions and better Placements because this is itself a subject who needs immense expertise and experience. They fail to get the experts in admissions to design the right admission Process and finally land in replicating Plans of other institutions” 
My decade of experience and interaction with hundreds of Schools and College stake Holders and research in this space helped me to come out with an innovative and successful product in the field of admissions and Placement Solutions. We audit the admission challenges that Institution may have which could be more than 300 + audit checkpoints, Followed by competition / Student / Parent research. This helps us to know the best-suited marketing and branding channels. With the help of audit and competition analysis, we then Design the New Admission SOPs for Sales, Marketing, Branding, Conversions, budgeting, Social Media Plan which would spread across 365 days. Finally, we train the admission team to deliver as per the admission SOPs and keep monitoring admissions for a year.
Under Placement Solutions we have designed the most comprehensive and Intensive Campus Recruitment Training to help colleges and students to face any Interview.

What attracts you towards entrepreneurship instead of a corporate career?

I chose entrepreneurship because I always wanted to make an impact for every School and College which wants to flourish. I wanted to do this because this is what the demand of stakeholders is and there are no professional set up organization to help them with Conclusive solutions.
Ignify Solutions will be solving the most critical problem for educational institutions which are Admissions and Placements so that the stakeholders can keep concentrate on progressing on the development of students and quality education and not worry on admissions and Placement. The problem with admissions and Placement has been there since the inception of educational Institutions”
My exposure and interaction with School/College Owners across the country endorsed this on all levels. Whatever they did in the school or college, whether adapting to technology, tie-up with companies, purchasing of equipment, Hiring of staff, all had an ultimate agenda of achieving excellence on admissions and Placements.
This was only possible to achieve with a robust, dynamic Admission Plan and SOPs which only wherewith the top Schools and Colleges. They had invested in this from the beginning and had hired strong sales and marketing team for the same My roots of being from rural India has been a blessing for me.
If you want to change and do impactful work you have to take the rural, semi-rural, semi-urban India together. The youth in these places are struggling to get a quality education and employment. even after they have the required educational degree they lack in employability skills. This is where our interview preparation solution which is a life-changing experience can be helpful to solve their challenge.  I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurship and read success stories of all the successful entrepreneurs. You see – It’s fascinating how you build something from the scratch to build an empire around it and not everyone can do it.
It takes a lot of courage, planning, perseverance, hard work, teamwork, combined with good strategy & execution skills. I have been able to realize my dream to be an entrepreneur which was possible because of my wife Nitu. Nitu has not only been a life partner to me but also a Friend and Guide throughout my life.
Special Thanks to my mentors in Life Ms Divya Lal (Managing Director Fliplearn Education Pvt. Ltd ), Mr Sumit Handa (Co. Founder – Estrolo) Mr Rajashekhar Yarlagada ( MD People Combine ) and Mr Taranjeet Singh Bhramra ( CEO AGNEXT Technologies) who gave me valuable inputs to make the journey a lot easier for me. There are many more to name and I am blessed to have them with me always.
‘Ignify Solutions Pvt Ltd’ is such a unique name; talk us through more about it, please. Our audience would also love to know what kind of problem you are solving with the help of your start-up.
Ignify Solutions is here to solve the 02 most critical concerns that any school/College face Admissions and Placements. We help school – Colleges – Institutions with more admissions and best Placements.
This is 1st of its kind solution which becomes the full ecosystem of admissions and Placements. 
When we talk about admissions – We don’t feed schools with students,  we empower the institution itself to attract students for admissions.
Similarly, in placement Solutions we are empowering students / Job seekers with Interview Preparation which focuses right from Resume designing, followed by Resume promotions, Job research, personal and telephonic round Interview preparation, deciding upon the best interview attire, Offer negotiation and support till Induction.

During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?

As the business is born just before COVID, each measure is taken to ensure that the model aligns with challenges of the pandemic.
1 – Our business model consists of a lean team which is not at all resource-heavy and has minimal overheads. We are anyways delivering services which need expertise and experience. 
2 – The freelancer model ensures each and every work can be handled remotely, where we don’t need to do physical meetings
3 – Every aspect of the business is online and tech-enabled to ensure automation as much as possible.

How do you manage yourself and keep on going despite the challenges? What drives you?

Challenge is what drives me. This lets ME keep innovating and always monitor.  I always try to make sure that I empower the right people for the right work. This way I do not feel overburdened with work that leads to stress. In my free time, I try to travel, spend time with my family, and try to maintain my work-life balance as much as possible. Travelling helps me clear my mind and focus on issues that need my attention.

What are the three most important lessons you have learned building your start-up?

I’ve learned not to compare myself to other successful entrepreneurs who seem to have it all together. Invariably, things are not always as they seem, and no one has it all together.
It’s important that you monitor yourself more than your team. It’s you and your efforts which need to be measured at this juncture.
I have also learned how important it is to embrace change because, at any given time, you will need to shift strategies due to circumstances beyond your control. 

In your opinion – what is more necessary: Idea or a good team for a successful start-up?

In my opinion, it should be a mix of both. You just cannot go ahead with an idea jotted down on a piece of paper without like-minded people working on it.
I have seen companies with very innovative ideas with niche market segment fail just because they lacked proper team spirit in them.

To be successful, you should team up with co-founders who share your vision behind the idea and you also need to hire the right people for the right position so that it gets implemented in a proper way.

Please share with us what has worked well for you so far?

One thing I would say that helped me and my company grow is the ability to listen to our customers. We believe that customers are not interested in products but in getting their problems resolved.
The more we listen to them, the problems they face in their business, the more efficiently and effectively we can resolve them. We believe that we are capable to do that and it is the only reason for our growth.

You are always positive and motivated, what keeps you going?

I love my work because I always do what I love to do. Anything you do in life you have to have a passion for and should not feel like work.
I enjoy the challenge of developing solutions for the education sector.

We would love to know your advice for all those starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?

Don’t bury your dreams because not everyone dreams. Start preparing slowly as well as plan well for facing tough times financially, emotionally and physically. 
Have back up plans, once you feel you are ready to go for it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and see them as an opportunity to learn. You are bound of succeed.